Clarity on parakites and speedwings

Dear members,

There have been a number queries and safety concerns raised with the SAHPA Committee over the past year regarding the use of parakites and speedwings.

The Flare Moustache and Flow Mullet are a new design of paragliding wing that borrows certain design elements from kites. Manufacturers have classed these as parakites to distinguish them from conventional paragliders.

Speedwings, miniwings and parakites exhibit higher performance characteristics than conventional paragliders; they are fast, responsive and retain a lot of energy, making them especially suitable for coastal soaring.

Unfortunately, certain speedwing and parakite pilots are attempting to use the new terminology as a loophole to reject authority and established safety protocols.

Classification as a paraglider

While it is clear that the parakite designs incorporate certain elements from kites, these wings are undeniably still paragliders:

  • Speedwings and parakites are connected to a paragliding harness in exactly the same way as a conventional paraglider.
  • Speedwings and parakites are launched from paragliding launch sites, and flown using the same or similar set of skills as paraglider pilots.
  • Parakites have the same basic controls as a conventional paraglider, even if the design allows for additional range of control.
  • A reasonable member of the public would not be able to distinguish between a paraglider and a parakite.

Regulatory perspective

In 2021, SACAA published a General Notice GAD-001 which confirmed the regulator’s stance regarding BASE jumping and speedflying in South Africa.

The SAHPA perspective

The SAHPA committee has considered all aspects relating to speedflying and parakites, and thus want to clarify the following:

  1. Both speedwings and parakites are types of paraglider, and thus all pilots flying parakites require a paragliding licence and are required to comply with the legislation and regulations.
  2. All pilots that fly paragliders, speedwings, miniwings and parakites are required to be SAHPA members in terms of Part 94.06.2 of the Civil Aviation Regulations.
  3. Speedwings, Miniwings and Parakites are unrated paragliders, and thus require a PG Sport rating.
  4. The SAHPA Committee acknowledges that the requirements for a PG Sport rating are not necessarily relevant to coastal soaring.